Have you ever wondered why some job posts require a resume and others a CV? If not, then like most people you may have assumed the resume and CV are one and the same. Thus it may come as a surprise to you that each document has a distinct purpose and specific characteristics that differentiate it from the other.
Failure to understand these differences could have an impact on your chances of landing the job. So what is the difference between a CV and A Resume? Let’s start by explaining what is a resume and a CV.
What is a Resume?
A resume is a concise summary of your experiences and achievements in work, education and acquired skills in direct relation to a job or position that you are trying to acquire.
It is generally considered to be a short document; many submit only single page resumes although those with more than 10 years experience may need 2 or more pages.
The content of your resume should never remain the same. If you are planning to submit a resume to 3 companies from different industries, the content of each document must be tailored to fit the specific requirements of the respective job post.
What is a CV?
A CV or Curriculum Vitae is a highly- detailed document that chronicles your accomplishments in work, school and in other endeavors related to the field of specialization or the academia.
Although there are CV’s that can be completed within a single page, the most effective ones are those that cover multiple pages. It is not out of the ordinary for potential employers to review a CV that is more than 10 pages long.
The content of the CV does not change unless you have acquired new experiences, skills and certifications or made accomplishments relevant to your industry.
3 Main Differences and Similarities Between the Resume and the CV
Based on the descriptions of a resume and a CV, their 3 main differences can be identified as follows:
1. Length – The resume as a summary is shorter in length and is usually submitted as a 1-page document. By contrast, a CV is a highly-detailed account of your life experiences up to the time of submission. A CV is like a living document; it will continue to grow in length as you gain more experience and build up on your expertise.
2. Purpose – The purpose of the resume is to tailor your qualifications and experiences according to the specific requirements of the job position. With the CV, it is used for positions that need high levels of achievements in the academia. A CV is the primary document required for teaching positions and research.
3. Lay Out – The layout of the resume is flexible. Although the reverse- chronological format is the most widely accepted, you could switch to functional or combination formats if warranted. The layout of the CV is static. It will not change at all.
Despite these 3 main differences, both the resume and the CV share a few characteristics:
1. Structure – Both the resume and CV must be readable and structured in a professional manner. You would best be advised to maintain a simple but more focused look to either document:
- Use only appropriate font styles such as Calibri, Cambria, Helvetica and Arial.
- Use font size 12 to 14.
- Keep a single space margin between lines.
- Maintain a 1” margin all around; use “Print Preview” to be sure format is printable.
- Left Aligned is preferred
2. Clear Specifications
Companies may demand specific formats or templates to be followed. This is especially true for CV’s. Before writing your resume or CV, thoroughly review the post and check if there is a template to be used.
Also, you should substantiate accomplishments in work, school and in related activities with facts and figures. For the CV, you must be thorough when providing details on publications you made. Provide links, dates and other information relevant to your body of work.
Finally, it should not be identified as a similarity because it should go without saying. But before submitting your resume or CV, always review and double- check for grammatical errors and misspelled words.
Have your resume or CV do through online programs that check for errors in grammar and spelling. Go the extra step by having a trusted friend or associate review it for an honest assessment and evaluation.
It is simply not acceptable for recruiters if you submit a resume or CV that has glaring flaws and mistakes.
Structure of the Resume
A typical resume will have the following sections as part of its structure:
- Header – Information should include complete name, city, state, e-mail address and online information such as your URL for LinkedIn or personal website.
- Objective Summary – A short narrative that gives the recruiter an idea of your character and your potential contributions to the company.
- Work Experience – As mentioned, reverse- chronological format or starting out from your most recent employment moving backwards is preferred. But if your work history has gaps in excess of 6 months, you could switch to the functional format. If you are targeting a career change, the combination format would work best.
- Educational Attainment – Again, reverse- chronological format works best with this section. Highlight achievements, accomplishments, certificates and citations received in college or from higher institutions.
- Skills and Abilities – Identify and showcase your skills and abilities that are relevant to the job.
- Interests – A short summary of your life outside work. Done properly, this section could help state your case as right- fit for the organization.
When writing your resume, make sure you are using the correct keywords or phrases. You can identify these keywords from the job post itself or by visiting the website of the company.
Structure of the CV
A CV will have the following sections form its structure:
- Header – Same information as the resume.
- Areas of Interest – A summary of your various academic interests.
- Education – Itemize the degrees you have earned including those currently in progress such as a Master’s or Doctorate. You should also indicate the titles of dissertations you have made.
- Grants, Honors and Awards – Complete rundown of all citations and forms of recognitions you have received during your career and at the academe.
- Publications and Presentations – Complete list of all the publications and presentations you have made at school and at work. If you have amassed a large volume of work, create a separate category each for publications and presentations.
- Work Experience – Unlike the resume, your work experience in the CV should be more encompassing. Include your experiences in teaching, laboratory and field work. You can even add volunteer work and leadership experiences.
- Professional Affiliations or Scholastic Memberships – Summarize the groups and organizations you are a member of that are relevant to the industry of your field of specialization. Highlight the years when you chaired an organizational body or carried out special missions.
- References – Include the names of people who can vouch for your character, quality of work, former or current clients and others that can give favorable testimony.
Unlike a resume, the use of keywords, buzzwords or phrases is not important in the CV. Your focus when writing you CV is detail. Organizations that ask for CV’s are looking for people with the credentials, experiences and expertise to meet the demands and responsibilities of the position.
If a recruiter only allocates 6 seconds to view your resume, the employer will certainly take more time in evaluating a CV.
When to Use a Resume or a CV
It’s not difficult to know if you have to submit a resume or a CV. In the first place, the job post would most likely indicate which one you need. If the details indicated in the job post are not clear, take the time to call the company and get clarification.
Your use of a resume or a CV could also depend on the country or location of the job. In the United States and North America, the resume is the standard document for application.
In the United Kingdom, Ireland and New Zealand you should submit CV’s because resumes are never used at all. You can even download a European Union CV format to be sure.
Meanwhile in Australia, India and South Africa the terms resume and CV are interchangeable. Perhaps the best way to differentiate them is by purpose. Resumes are the document of choice if you are seeking employment in private corporations but the CV is more appropriate if you want to work for the public sector.
Should You Have a CV?
Chances are there are more of you who have written a resume than a CV. But there is no harm in creating a CV. Remember that the content of the CV grows as you acquire more experience and knowledge. You would not want to scramble in writing one when the time comes that a potential employer requests it over a resume.
Start working on your CV and store it as a document file. Update it as needed. At the very least, you can use it as a reference point for your resume.